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Samantha Power, Libya, and Selective Memory of Genocide

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Edward HermanIt might seem a bit surprising to see Samantha Power on the National Security Council and working with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who Power famously called a “monster” during the 2008 presidential campaign. But this was a heat-of-battle bit of name-calling, not a designation based on any difference in outlook. Both women are hardliners, along with their colleague Susan Rice, and the three together have constituted a regrettable women’s caucus in favor of a military solution to the conflict in Libya.

In her 2002 book A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide, Power called for greater U.S. intervention to prevent major human rights violations and genocide. She never suggests that this might require LESS intervention (e.g., Vietnam; the “sanctions of mass destruction” in Iraq) or reduced support for killers (e.g., Guatemala, El Salvador, Chile, Israel). She also finds that we inappropriately “just stood by” and failed to intervene in cases where we actually gave positive support to the mass murderers (e.g., Indonesia in East Timor; Kagame and Musaveni in Rwanda and the Congo)

But while ignoring U.S. and client state bloodbaths Power did focus with great passion on genocides or alleged genocides carried out by U.S. targets. This huge bias carried her to the Carr Center for Human Rights and a professorship at Harvard, a Pulitzer Prize, generous media access, and now to a high level position in the administration of the Nobel Peace Prize president. It all fits!

For more information see the following piece, an excerpt of an article which originally appeared  ZNET [more]

Low-Income Women Pushed to the Sidelines

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Low-income women have been invisible in budget deliberations thus far – yet they will be injured disproportionately by cuts to income programs like Social Security and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families [TANF], as well by cuts to Medicaid, Medicare and Food Stamps.

Despite the prolonged recession, income assistance to low-income families has shriveled over the past decade, providing help to less than 40 percent of families who meet TANF criteria and to an even smaller fraction (27 percent) of all families in actual need. For those who do receive benefits, the cash value has eroded so badly that TANF cash assistance does not bring a family up to the poverty line in any state. [more]

Trumka Questioned on Wisconsin, Two-Party System, Journalism and Obama

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Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, stopped by the National Press Club this afternoon. Trumka underlined the need for economic equality in a 30 minute address before fielding questions submitted by the audience and selected by NPC President Mark Hamrick.

Hamrick asked variations of three questions submitted by IPA. Here’s a transcript of those exchanges:

Building on Wisconsin:
Hamrick: So back to your speech, someone asked, “What is your game plan to spread the spirit of the Wisconsin protest to other parts of the country?’”
Trumka: We’re out there every day, educating and mobilizing. And it’s not just in Wisconsin. We have cross-pollinated Wisconsin people with Ohio people, with Missouri, with Tennessee, with Indiana. We’ve gone all over the country. And people are mobilized. And it’s not just union people, it’s working people in general. Small business people are out there supporting us. Non-union workers are out there supporting us because they think these people have gone too far in trying to pay back their rich donors by destroying the rights of workers out there. So we’re taking that message everywhere. We’re seeing it take effect. And apparently, we’re doing something right, because guys like Scott Walker, his ratings in his own state have fallen like a big rock in a small pond. They think he’s going too far. [more]

Herman: U.S., NATO Hypocrisy on Libya Precludes Their Action

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Edward HermanI’m surprised that Phyllis Bennis doesn’t recognize the problems of what we may call “clean hands” — and hypocrisy — in her call for Security Council action on Libya. Do the United States, UK, France and Germany have clean hands that would justify antiwar, anti-imperialist and humanitarians calling upon them to act against Libya? They are daily attacking Afghanistan and Pakistan and have given unstinting support to Israeli ethnic cleansing and international law violations. Doesn’t this discredit the Security Council as an instrument of international justice? [more]

Uprisings: Online Resouces

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With protests continuing, here is a partial list of online resources:

For Libya: #Feb17; CNN’s Ben Wedeman; @EnoughGaddafi; For Bahrain: #Feb14, @OnlineBahrain; For Yemen: #Feb3; @JNovak_Yemen; Palestinian: #Mar15

Gulf: @dr_davidson, @tobycraigjones

For Saudi Arabia: on Twitter: #Mar11; Webpages and blogs: rasid.com, ysoof.com/blog/?p=242, saudiwoman.wordpress.com, alasmari.wordpress.com, saudijeans.org

To translate: translate.google.com

Based in the U.S., but with extensive contacts in the Mideast: angryarab.blogspot.com; the new journal jadaliyya.commerip.org; juancole.com

For Tunisia and generally: #Sidibouzid (refers to the town of Mohamed Bouazizi, the Tunisian street vendor who on December 17 was the first of several in the region to immolate himself in protest.)

Egypt: #Jan25 (all dates referring to date protests began in each country); [more]

“A New Bipartisan Consensus Against Low Income People”

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The president’s budget is a prosaic austerity plan that inflicts disproportionate pain on low income Americans. Fundamental questions about the costs of war and the fairness of tax cuts for the rich have been avoided by the decision to narrowly target non-security “discretionary” spending to bear the weight of deficit reduction. It used to be Republicans alone who sought to balance the budget on the backs of the poor. But Obama’s 2012 budget takes us to the brink of a new bipartisan consensus against low income people. Will progressives go along?

Mink is co-editor of the two-volume Poverty in the United States: An Encyclopedia of History, Politics and Policy and author of Welfare’s End. Her blog is feministsocialjustice.blogspot.com.

Challenges for Change in Algeria

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Tunisia and Egypt are relatively centralized states, Algeria not so, neither politically, nor culturally, nor geographically. Historically, the interior has been difficult to control, and there is no guarantee that the rest of the country would rally to the protests taking place in the capital as in the case of Egypt.

The Algerian regime is wealthy and can buy off large segments of the population. It can rule more autonomously than Ben Ali or Mubarak because it is less dependent on foreign aid. It can endure a political crisis far longer. The regime has also been weathered by a far more severe political crisis in its recent history, and survived relatively unscathed a grueling civil war of more than 10 years (1992-2003).

The memory of this conflict may be a factor. As analysts have noted, the memory may act as a brake on popular political action, but by the same token, is the regime willing to contemplate political degradation that may lead to renewed conflict? [more]

“Mubarak has fallen. The regime didn’t”

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CAIRO — Mubarak has fallen. The regime didn’t. We still have the same cabinet appointed by [Mubarak]. The emergency state is still enforced. Old detainees are still in detentions and new ones since the 25th of January remain missing. There is no public apology for the killing. We hear several executives are being prosecuted, including minister of Interior Habib El Adly. Process not transparent. Parliament has not been dissolved. Nor has the Shura council. etc.

Aida Seif El Dawla is with the Nadeem Center for Victims of Torture in Cairo. She was profiled by Time magazine as a global hero in 2004.

Time to forge new, democratic system

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CAIRO — Last night, February 11, Cairo was the scene of what may well have been the largest street party in world history.  It was incredibly powerful and moving.  Of course, the night’s festivities marked both an end and a beginning. Now is the time for Egypt’s judges, other legal professionals, diplomats, other negotiators, intellectuals, and spokespersons for social and economic constituencies to forge a new, responsible, transparent, democratic system of civilian governance. [more]

Our Man in Cairo

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With Mubarak’s departure, the focus now falls on his chosen successor, Omar Suleiman. According to a classified American diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks, Suleiman was Israel’s pick to succeed Mubarak. But there’s little doubt that he was also the choice of the United States, or at least of one particular American agency with which he has been closely tied through much of his career, the CIA.

During the war on terror, Suleiman headed Egypt’s foreign intelligence agency and as such he was the key contact for the CIA in a number of activities, particularly including its highly secretive extraordinary renditions program. When American interrogators wanted to use the crudest torture techniques, they did so through proxy arrangements, and their first stop was in Egypt. The CIA’s Cairo station chief, who now heads the agency’s CounterTerrorism Center and who routinely briefs President Obama, developed a legendarily tight personal relationship with Suleiman. [more]

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